7 Energy Saving Tips
Much of your energy costs are leaking out your windows and doors, literally. By using a few inexpensive energy-efficient measures, you can reduce your energy bills by 10% to 50% and, at the same time, help reduce air pollution emitted from fossil fuel generated energy. Many utility companies offer cleaner solutions, such as wind-generated energy-an affordable alternative. Following are seven steps to lowering your energy bill.
- Insulation and Weatherization
Most energy leaks come from uninsulated windows, doors, attics, crawl spaces, floors, ducts, and exterior and basement walls. Checking your home's insulating system is one of the fastest and most cost-efficient ways reduce energy waste. You can increase the comfort of your home while reducing your heating and cooling bills by up to 30% by investing just a few hundred dollars in proper insulation and weatherization products.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate your home is to add insulation in the attic. Insulation is measured in R-values-the higher the R-value, the better your walls and roofs will resist the transfer of heat. To find out if you have enough insulation, measure the thickness of insulation. Most U.S. homes should have between R-22 and R-49 insulation in the attic. If there is less than R-22 (7 inches of fiber glass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose) you could probably benefit by adding more.
If your attic is properly insulated and your home still feels cold in the winter or too warm in the summer, you need to add insulation to the exterior walls as well. This is a more expensive measure that usually requires a contractor, but it may be worth the cost if you live in a very hot or cold climate.
Prevent air leakage and energy waste by caulking, sealing, and weather stripping all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. You can save 10% or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home. (See Weather Stripping tips for more detailed information.)
- Heating and Cooling
About 44% of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling. You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours. You can pre-set schedules that will adjust the temperature with or without you there. For instance, when you're not at home, or when you are asleep, the temperature should be set lower. With an automatic setback or programmable thermostat, changes are made automatically without sacrificing comfort.
- Water Heating
Water heating accounts for about 14% of your utility bill and is the third largest energy expense in your home. You can cut your water heating bills by using less hot water, turning down the thermostat on your water heater, insulating your water heater, and buying a new, more efficient water heater. Most of wasted water comes from showering. You can cut that amount in half simply by using low-flow aerating showerheads and faucets.
If you heat with electricity, consider installing a solar water heater to reduce energy costs. More than 1.5 million homes and businesses in the United States have invested in solar water heating systems and over 94% of these customers consider the systems a good investment. Solar water heating systems are also good for the environment, as they do not emit the harmful greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity production.
Windows can account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill. Replace single-pane windows with double-pane windows with high-performance glass (e.g., low-e or spectrally selective, depending on your climate). Low-e coatings reduce heat loss, while spectrally selective coatings reduce heat gain.
In addition to or in place of replacing your windows, you can control the amount of energy loss in your home. For instance, in the winter months, close your curtains and shades at night and keep them open them during the day to allow heat in. Keep windows on the south side of your house clean to maximize solar gain. In the summer months, install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house. Close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day. You can also install awnings on south- and west-facing windows and/or apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows to reduce solar gain.
Landscaping is a natural and beautiful way to reduce your energy bills. In addition to adding aesthetic value to your home, a well-placed tree, shrub, or vine can deliver effective shade, act as a windbreak, and reduce overall energy bills. Landscaping can also help block and absorb the sun's energy to help decrease heat buildup in your home by providing shade and evaporative cooling. The energy-conserving landscape strategies you should use for your home depend on the type of climate in which you live.
Another way of decreasing your energy bills deals with lighting. This not only includes turning off a light when you're not in the room, but also involves replacing your lights in high-use areas with fluorescents. In doing this, you can save about 50% of your lighting energy bill.
Use linear fluorescent and energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in fixtures throughout your home provides high-quality and high-efficiency lighting. Fluorescent lamps may be more expensive, but they pay for themselves with their energy efficiency and long-life.
If you have outdoor lights, you may want to control the time they are on with a motion detectors, so they only turn on when they are needed. Some stores also carry lights powered by small photovoltaic (PV) modules that convert sunlight directly into electricity.
Appliances account for about 20% of your household's energy consumption, with refrigerators and clothes dryers at the top of the consumption list.
For example, a refrigerator uses almost five times the electricity the average television uses. Refrigerators with the freezer on top are more efficient than those with freezers on the side.
About 80% to 85% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water. You can reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes by using less water and cooler water. Unless you're dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half.